Successful Series

This post is brought to you by the news that Henry Cavill is leaving the Witcher after season 3. Liam Hemsworth will take over. Right.

There are many factors that make a successful series. Casting is a huge part of it, where the actors need to demonstrate both chemistry between the characters and be able to deliver their own character. We’ve seen ample examples of great actors who don’t like the role for a set of reasons. Writing is also a big part, where the larger storyline and then individual components fit together with some sense of logic. Jumping the shark is a real thing. And we can’t forget the overall leadership of the series, where there’s a vision and structure to help tell a storyline. Budget is the last piece – unless you’re looking for a B-movie view, you need to invest in some regard. When all 4 are missing, you get something like Jupiter’s Legacy.

Comic books were next to impossible to adapt until CGI/effects were able to catch up to reality. We’re talking complex and integrated storylines that span decades, a veritable treasure trove of ideas. And over the years we’ve had varying levels of success in these spaces – Teen Titans Go is one of my favorite examples of setting being used for parody. Things like Smallville lead us to Green Arrow and the Flash. Agents of SHIELD is a result of the Avengers movie. Gotham hit some solid notes. The Boys is just an insane series that was already insane in comic book form.

Where that was successful, series based on books has been less so. Books are rarely based on dialogue, and the context is the real driver. For every HBO Dune series, we get something like The Sword of Truth that follows. They are notoriously hard to adapt into a visual format, because they never were visual to start with. I mean, Superman in yellow, with a hat, just doesn’t work. There’s no effective reference point. Heck, the Rings of Power series had to apply Peter Jackson’s visual style because there’s just no other visual reference point. And the stories themselves are told over hundreds if not thousands of pages. A character may only have minor progress in a book, but TV series need something, and they need it NOW.

Game of Thrones is a really good example of this, for a multitude of reasons. The initial launch was based on a solid set of novels, with great casting and writing with direction. When they moved beyond the books, the overall vision was lost, and the ending was clearly rushed, with the actors having stopped caring in the end.

The Witcher is slightly different in that it’s both a series of stories in books AND a video game series. Both have the same foundation and concepts, though there are certainly more liberties taken in the games. Fundamentally, it’s a retelling of Frankenstein, where the real monsters are the humans.

Henry Cavill is a self-avowed geek. He nearly lost out on Superman due to a WoW addiction. He’s built his own gaming PCs. And he’s a HUGE advocate for the Witcher being made in visual form. And it helps that the guy actually looks like Geralt.

As the story goes, he put in a lot of effort to convince execs that a Witcher series could work. The first season was a bit over the map, with Geralt being more of a grunter than a speaker… where in the books/games here’s certainly more talkative. Season 2 was really weird, with some excellent stories and then baffling choices. And during this time Henry was in the media explaining how he was trying to defend the books while ensuring the writing team put out good content. That is a conflict of interest if ever, and certainly can’t make for a good work environment.

So here we are now. The greatest advocate for the series is moving on. With rumors that the disagreements on direction of the series as the cause. And with respect to Liam Hemsworth set to replace, there’s not much hope that this will get past season 4, if that season even comes to pass.

What a strange set of events.

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